Chuck Hagel Speculates About Bush’s Impeachment
There is much discussion in the blogosphere about Senator Chuck Hagel’s interview in Esquire where he speculates about the possibility of President Bush’s impeachment:
“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore,” Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”
The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word — impeachment — spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It’s barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.
“Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility,” he says. “The press abdicated its responsibility, and the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly.”
All of this is true. Grave mistakes were made on both sides of the political aisle that have plunged America, and the rest of the world, into a situation that seems to be without an easy solution right now. But that’s not a ground for impeachment.
Here’s what Article II says:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
It is without question that profound policy mistakes have been made by the Bush Administration, especially when it comes to the Iraq War. They relied on faulty intelligence, ignored evidence that didn’t conform to their predetermined conclusions, and started a war without planning what would happen after it was over. We have paid the price for those mistakes for four years now.
Making bad policy decisions is not a ground for impeachment under the Constitution. Turning the impeachment power into a method of removing from office a President who is merely unpopular would, I think, be a grave mistake.